These are short hearings before the judge/magistrate so that the court can:
To obtain a dissolution of marriage, one of the parties to the marriage must reside six months in the state before the filing of the petition. You can prove residency by doing one of the following:
If you have documents that you feel will help prove your case (i.e. copies of bills, receipts, real estate legal description, etc.), you must bring them with you. But, be aware that there are evidentiary rules that may prohibit their use, so determine whether witnesses may be necessary to properly introduce these documents into evidence.
If you have witnesses you want to testify, they must be present. A subpoena should be issued to assure their presence.
Prepare an opening statement, which is a brief statement indicating:
Each side will have the opportunity to present his/her case before the judge/magistrate by:
Hearsay is the legal term for any statement, verbal or non-verbal, offered as evidence that is not based on a witness's personal knowledge, but instead on another person’s statement that was not made under oath. Generally, hearsay is not admissible evidence.
If you need an interpreter, it is your responsibility to arrange for a competent interpreter to come to the hearing with you. The interpreter should be an adult who speaks your language and English fluently. This person cannot be a relative, spouse, or significant other, unless agreed to by the other party. If the other party objects, the interpreter must be certified. It is preferred that you use a court-approved interpreter.
The court does not provide an interpreter free of charge, except in initial proceedings for an injunction for protection. The litigant is solely responsible for paying any fees associated with the interpreter’s services.
If your final hearing is before the magistrate, and neither party files an exception to the magistrate’s decision, you must wait (10) ten days from the date of your final hearing for the judge to sign a final judgment accepting the magistrate’s decision. If both parties appear at the final hearing, the parties may agree to waive the waiting period.
The petitioner must pay the Clerk of Court a filing fee of $10.50 for the clerk to record the final judgment. If the parties do not agree to waive the ten-day waiting period, your final judgment will be available at the clerk’s office two weeks after your final hearing.
Because you are representing yourself in court, it is your responsibility to become familiar with the rules and laws relevant to your legal matter. Be sure you are aware of the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, Florida Statutes, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Florida Rules of Evidence. The judge, the magistrate, case managers, or other court personnel cannot give you legal advice.
You may obtain additional information and forms by visiting the Florida State Courts at www.flcourts.org:
Family law forms are also available at the Clerk’s Office in packets for a fee.